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This post covers the dress code as well as the Dos and Don’ts of an afternoon wedding guest outfit. Read to look your best dress for the event.



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Is there a Dress Code for Afternoon Weddings?

If the event is not for a beach wedding, but some hours after lunchtime, the typical dress-code of an afternoon wedding is semi-formal. Consequently, it calls for cocktail dresses, LBDs or modest party dresses. If the invitation asks for formal attire, go for a cocktail dress or a dressy LBD.


What to Wear an Afternoon Wedding?

Since it is a semi-formal event fit-and-flare, sheath, high-low hem dresses or retro-inspired cuts just with hems just above the knee to tea-length are best. If there is a religious ceremony involved, stay away from strapless or spaghetti straps or have a cover-up or jacket that matches the dress.

When your have eclectic style, the best way is to pull a leather moto jacket with your outfit to keep it chic and balanced without going too overboard.



Which Colors to Wear to an Afternoon Wedding Party?

Always avoid white unless you are the bride as well as the colors of the bridal party. Otherwise everything goes from pastel to gemstone bright colors. If you can’t find out the color of the bridal party, your best bet is to take a look at the go-to color palettes for the year.


Saving tip: A Little Red Dress is a nice choice because it also works for holiday cocktail parties.


Courtesy tip: If you belong to the family, consider that wedding photos are incredibly valuable memories for the couple. Therefore choose a color that doesn’t clashes with the color of the bridal party.



Can I Wear Black to an Afternoon Wedding?

In many European countries, wearing a LBD to a wedding is a No-No. However, it’s o.k. in the US when the dress has a party vibe.


LBD suitable for a guest at an afternoon nuptial
Romantic style LBD c/o Ever Pretty Dresses styled with fascinator.



Is It o.k. to Wear a Tuxedo at a Wedding as a Woman?

In the US, a black pantsuit or tuxedo with chiffon top are great choices too. When you want to add suspenders, buy them in the color of your top. More on colored suspenders and wedding Dos and Don’ts.


Can You Wear Prints to an Afternoon Wedding?

Medium sized (size of your hand) floral print party dresses work well too with metallic pumps or pumps in a color of the print for a semi-formal dress code (see photo below).


vintage inspired flapper attire suitable for a summer 3pm marriage ceremony guest
High-low hem floral print dress with beading and sequins and build-in slip to avoid see-thru. Pair it with metallic flat sandals and a lavender leather or fabric clutch for a garden outdoor ceremony.



Remembrance: Save the elegance of the day in a bespoke wedding photo book.



Which Fabrics Are Best for an Afternoon Wedding Guest Outfit?

For formal and semi-formal events taffeta, tulle, chiffon, lace, jacquard or silk are great fabrics. Steer away from anything to daytime like cotton, jersey, or denim.


Best Shoes for an Afternoon Wedding

If the party is outside, go for elegant wedge heels in the vibe of your dress. They permit walking on the lawn without getting stuck. Indoors, peep-toe pumps are a great option with short above-the-knee dresses. If the fabric of the dress is matte, go for patent leather in the same color or black. Nude patent leather is great with gemstone colored dresses. Blush or metallic shoes work nicely with pastel shade dresses.


Tip: When you are a guest at an outdoor nuptial, get information on whether you can reach the place in heels. In Alaska, outdoor weddings often require to change the footwear at the location. Tourist are often upset when seeing Alaskans wearing outdoor shoes in wedding photos.


Tip: At indoor parties, it is great to have metallic flatouts available, when your feet can’t endure heels for a long time. Once everyone sits to enjoy the cake, nobody will notice.


Bags and Shoes

Don’t match the color of the clutch and shoes. On us 40+, doing so looks so 1970s and screams Old Lady. Instead, choose a bag in a different color than your shoes.  For instance, a metallic clutch with patent leather heels or vice versa. A sequin clutch with matte open-toe pumps all in analogous colors of the color wheel or in the same color family are great combinations as well. More on ageless monochromatic looks.



Afternoon wedding guest outfit with sequins
L.K. Bennett open Toe snake print pumps, garnet necklace and earrings, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Nordgreen watch, sunglasses c/o SUNGAIT, clutch c/o JORD, sequin high low hem velvet dress c/o Ever Pretty Dresses. Example of unmatched bag and shoes. Here the clutch has a cork feature while the pumps have a snake print.



What Do You Wear to a 4pm Wedding?

In the Southeastern US, no afternoon wedding guest outfit is complete without a hat. Take the female Royals wedding style as a guide. The hat should match the vibe and color of the dress or pick up colors of the accessories. When choosing the hat, keep in mind how you intend to wear your hair. If needed, make an appointment at the hairdresser for a blowout or fancy up-do.



Best Jewelry to Wear at an Afternoon Nuptial

Dim down the glam. Go for just one statement jewelry piece like a large cocktail ring, large dangling earrings or a statement necklace. You will look your best with the earrings that enhance your personal style and work well with your face features.


If needed, you can determine your face shape with this free online tool.



Be Aware of the No-Nos

Avoid the following most often made style faux pas:

  1. Religious jewelry of your own faith when there will be a service of another faith.
  2. Skimpy or provocative clothes including corsages, and belly-free attire except for saris.
  3. Jeans and T-shirts, baseball caps, large view-blocking hats.
  4. Casual footwear or bags to your otherwise semi-formal outfit.
  5. Sunglasses plus long hair down plus large dangly earrings plus a wide brim hat. This combination is too much even for the Kentucky Derby.


Afternoon Wedding Guest Outfit Ideas

Style blogger featuring a nude and black cocktail dress guest outfit idea for a 3pm nuptial
Fishnet tight, Very Fine Dance Sport Shoes sandals, jewelry, mother-of-the-bride dress c/o JJ House and clutch c/o Bellorita. The clutch is both nude and black colors  with the black on the sides and nude on the flap. This means the clutch and sandals are unmatched.





Stylist tip: When you are on a budget, browse consignment stores in an efficient way long time ahead of the date. Unless it is a designer dress don’t pay more than $20 because there are affordable cocktail and party dresses that start at about $30.


Additional Information on Afternoon Weddings to Consider




Wedding Guest Attire Must not be Expensive

There are three times in life where wedding invitations accumulate, and it seems like hopping from one wedding to another. In our 20s, when our siblings, cousins, and friends get married, in our late 40s, early 50s when our kids, the kids of our siblings and cousins, and the kids of our friends get married, and may be our friends get re-married, and later in our 70s and up when our grandkids get married, and may be our kids get remarried. Obviously, the different wedding crowds may have at least some of the same guests.

There are two options:

  1. Invest in an expensive dress and make wearing it the to all weddings as your personal style statement. This means the recycling of a gorgeous dress is a statement.
  2. The other option is going for new affordable, budget-friendly dresses each time.


Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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